The CSIRO Plant Industry’s Cotton Breeding and Biotechnology Team, from Narrabri, NSW, have been awarded the Chairman’s Medal for Research Achievement in their research on developing a new variety of cotton.
The Narrabri Team had spent years developing new cotton that was more environmentally friendly, disease-resistant and with high-yield variety, which is known as Sicot 71BRF. This new variety of cotton now constitutes 80% of Australia’s total cotton crop.
“In providing a highly desirable package of advantages over other cotton varieties, the team has delivered significant economic, social and environmental benefits to growers throughout Australia,” says Simon McKeon, CSIRO Chairman.
McKeon said the team’s success in producing a variety of cotton, which is currently dominating the industry landscape, demonstrates CSIRO’s ability to continually deliver the advancements required to maintain the Australian industry’s competitiveness.
“In 2010-11 the industry’s high adoption rate of Sicot 71BRF benefited the industry and the regional communities dependent on cotton production (gross value $1.7b; marginal value $61m), and the flow-on is helping many rural communities recover from a period of decline brought on by prolonged drought,” says McKeon.
“The team’s research also shows more yield is being obtained with the same water inputs – so, Sicot 71BRF is contributing to a better environmental profile for cotton.”
The Sicot 71BRF cotton variety also contains features that make it resistant to Helicoverpa pests, which helps reduce the need of insecticides by 80%.